General Joseph Martin Chapter
Cumberland Gap, TN
Cumberland Gap Patriot
William Butler, one of five brothers who
participated in the Revolutionary war, who became famous for his exploits
against the Seneca Indians, was born on January 6, 1745 in Ireland.Sometime
before the 1770s,Butler's father moved the family to Pennsylvania.
On June 8, 1776, Butler participated in his first battle at Trois Riveres, Located near Montreal Canada. It was the first battle that only the Pennsylvania line would participate. Here the Americans were defeated by The British general Sir Guy Carleton,who were on their way to Quebec to begin a siege operation. The Americans were defeated mainly due to the superior British artillery,and were forced to retreat.
At Brandywine( Sept 11,1777), Butler led a Pennsylvania regiment, who for three hours kept the Hessian General Knyphausen, from performing a frontal assault across Chad Ford. When Washington realized he was being outflanked by Cornwallis, Washington sent the Pa line to Birmingham house, only then was Knyphausen able to cross Chad Ford. By the end of the battle, Knyphausen had captured four battalions of American Prisoners.
At Monmouth( June 28, 1778), Butler fought under the command of Anthony Wayne. At the start of the battle, American General Charles Lee ordered Wayne to Charge the British campsite at Monmouth courthouse. The attack was so successful, that British General Clinton was forced to send in the Queen's Rangers to resist Wayne and the Pennsylvanians. Lee was soon forced to retreat, leaving Wayne and the Pennsylvanians, the only regiment on the field. Wayne fought bravely until forced back by the British 16th Light Dragoons.
Washington then showed up on the field of battle, and brought some order to the American line. Washington ordered Wayne to his tight near an Orchard. During this phase of the battle. British Colonel Monocton ordered a bayonet charge against Wayne's men. Monocton was killed in the charge when Wayne's men fired a volley into the charging British line. at Monmouth, Wayne had shown that the Pennsylvania line could stand the shock of Cavalry and the bayonet charge.
Elsewhere on the battlefield, the other Pennsylvania regiments fought bravely also. Lt. Col. Dummer was killed while leading a Pennsylvania regiment to check a detatchment of British soldiers from attempting to out flank the American Left. Col Aaron Burr had his horse hot out from under him while attacking a British column located on a hill. Burr would also suffer a stroke during the battle due to the heat of over 100 degrees.
In October 1778, Butler, led an expedition against the Seneca Indians. During this campaign the Indian villages of Unadilla and Anaguaga were burned down to the ground as a reprisal for the Wyoming valley massacres that occurred in Pennsylvania a few months earlier. In April 1779, Butler attacked the camp of the Onandagas, an Iroquois tribe. The Onandagas sided with the British after this attack. In August 1779, Butler joined the Sullivan expedition which participated in the burning of over forty seneca Indian Villages, and defeated them at the battle of Newtown ny( Aug 29 1779)when the Iroquois tribe was outflanked by Col. Matthias Ogden.
In January 1781, Butler was attacked by his own men during the jockey hill mutiny.. In December 1780, the Pennsylvania line was quartered at Jockey hill NJ, located near Morristown NJ for the winter quarters. Wayne had written a letter to the Secretary of war board in July 1778 complaining that his men were almost naked due to the tattered uniforms. On December 16, 1780,over two years later, Wayne wrote a letter to the Continental Congress stating his men were the worst poorly clothed and poorly fed of any regiment in the Continental army. The Pennsylvania line had not received any pay in the past 12 months.
On January 2, 1781, the Pennsylvania line mutinied. The mutineers chased Butler into a nearby hut trying to kill him. the mutineers marched to Princeton NJ where they met with the Continental President. Continental President Reed promised pay if they would end the mutiny. The Mutineers marched to Ringwood NJ where they were arrested by Washington. Washington had the ring leaders of the mutiny arrested and hanged.
Butler retired from the army after the mutiny, and moved back to Pennsylvania where he died in 1789. Lafayette made the comment after his funeral "that if he wanted something well done, he ordered a Butler to do it."
In the 1790's most of Butler's family moved to Kentucky. Two of William's brother's and his son joined the kentucky militia and fought with Wayne at Fallen Timbers OH in 1794 At Fallen Timbers, Wayne defeated the Shawnee chief Blue Jacket. Wayne would later comment that the Kentucky militia made the difference in winning the battle.
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